Have you ever noticed a little voice in your head that makes mean, cruel, horribly devastating comments that are directed to you?
-You're too stupid to do that.
-You're too fat.
-You're not good enough for her.
-You are soooo not cool enough to pull that outfit off.
-Why would he talk to you?
-How did you get by in this job for so long without anyone noticing your incompetency?
-A good mom wouldn't have done that.
-Don't speak up, they'll laugh at you.
-They don't want you joining their cozy group over there, you're too weird.
-You are not worth attention.
The statements are across the board, the underlying message is..."You are not good enough".
Any of it sound familiar? You're not crazy if you have heard any of those voices, this is your very own personal Gremlin. They are mean and can ignite various emotions...anger, sadness, disappointment and confusion.
It stops us from doing what we want, meeting new friends, going for a promotion, trying new things, being visible.
We all have them. Sometimes there is one underlying Gremlin, sometimes there's a gaggle of them (gaggle is the appropriate term for a group of Gremlins, no?). The point is, it's normal to hear those cruel things, it's normal that it can be loud, it's normal that you listen to it, it's normal you want it to stop. All of it NORMAL.
Now here's the kicker, the real secret to the Gremlin is realizing that it's not there to hurt you.
The Gremlin is there to protect you. I will say that one more time. That mean, horrible Gremlin that says all that nasty stuff, holds you back from experiences and seems to really despise you...is trying to protect you. Your Gremlin has been with you for a long time, more than likely early childhood or other formative years. Something happened that embarrassed you or hurt you in some way, so painfully and so deep that you formed a protection against similar situations that could cause you the same hurt.
It tries to stop you from putting yourself out there and getting burned again. How does it do that? By recognizing situations that feel familiar and it assumes that what happened in the past will repeat itself, so it tells you these things so that you don't move forward, you don't get hurt in that same way. It's better to blast you with all those statements than to try something and embarrassingly, publicly fail; it's better to have low self esteem than to think you're prettier than you really are and then be told by someone else how horrible you look.
How do we eradicate the Gremlin and move on with our lives? These four steps passed along from coaches before me will help you change your relationship with that ugly internal voice:
1) Name it - giving your Gremlin a name acknowledges it. When we are aware of things and bring them out on the table it allows for us to decide what we want to do, listen to our protector and choose if we want to be held back or move forward for new results.
2) Pin point when you first met or what it's job has been - we don't always know where our Gremlins come from, they've been with us for so long. If we are able to pin point that moment or at least what it's been protecting you from it won't be quite a shock when you hear it raise its ugly head spewing mean things freezing you in your tracks in those situations. It allows you to recognize your Gremlin's voice so that you can be prepared to give it air time and decide if you really need protection from someone or something.
3) Decide on a new job - this is the best step of all. Knowing what your Gremlin's job has been, creating fear and protecting you from harm (sometimes leading to more harm or missed opportunities), decide what job you want it to now take on. Would you like it to push you forward and encourage you? Would you like it to just stand down and allow you to do what you need to do? Decide what you need from it now since you've outgrown that previous need for protection.
4) Make a new agreement with it and be the Boss - here comes some cheesy....thank your Gremlin (by name of course) for the work it has done to protect you and agree that it no longer serves you to have that type of protection. Let your Gremlin know it's new job and ask how you can support it for success. Be the boss and do checkins with your Gremlin, like you would any other employee. When it slips up, recognize that it's understandable after so many years of doing the same job to regress and revert to old tactics.
Our Gremlins will always be there and sometimes it will forget the new assigned role, so our job when we hear those fear voices is to remind it and hold it accountable for what we want it to do.
My Gremlin GiGi loved her job of holding me back and letting me play small. She didn't willingly accept her new position as my Chief Executive Badass Officer (CEBO). While I appreciate her caring and wanting me to remain safe, we constantly have to review her new job description so that I can make new friends, speak up, and be fearlessly authentic.
I would love to hear from you in the comment section...
What have you decided will be your Gremlin's new job?
Bonus Q: What did you name your Gremlin?